By Jorge Diaz, MSW Clinical Social Worker
The month of “being grateful” and appreciating everything we have has arrived. What are you truly celebrating? What are you grateful for? Is there anything to be grateful for? Are the holidays tough for you because your family is in a different country? Or are they here but they don’t accept you, therefore, there is no invite or room for you and your partner at the dinner table? Or did you just break up with your partner and you’re dealing with grief and loss? Maybe an HIV diagnosis has changed your life and there is no hope for the future. Although you may feel there is nothing to be grateful for, I challenge you to analyze your struggles with a different perspective and through a healthier lens. Not being accepted and loved by family because you’re gay must be painful. Living with HIV is not an easy journey and dealing with a breakup is a rollercoaster of emotions. So long as you have life, there is hope. We should be grateful to have the liberty to dream and rebuild. My mother always told me that everything in life has a solution except for death. Pretty harsh, but true. After death, there is no more time in life to change and “fix” anything. If you just lost your job-guess what, it’s time to start looking for a new one. Dealing with a recent breakup-it’s time to process and give yourself time to heal. And then there’s HIV, what can we be grateful for if we just received an HIV diagnosis? You should be grateful that you’re alive. It’s time to fight and dig deep within yourself and find the necessary tools and elements to rise to the challenge. Living with HIV is tough, but it’s time to fight and prove to yourself how strong you truly are. It’s time to make the necessary changes to achieve “true happiness.” We tend to believe that when something is the way it is, it must stay that way. Why? Everything in life can be changed-nothing is truly set in stone. Life is about healing and rebuilding ourselves. The experiences in life should make you stronger even if they break you in the process. Life challenging moments will define you as a person but not dictate who you are. Life is about choices and life lessons yet there are no mistakes in life. We should be grateful to have the opportunity to change, dream and achieve. Our childhood and adolescent years are over and long gone for some of us. If your childhood experiences are still causing you pain-it’s time to heal. Healing is not an easy journey but necessary for many.
I challenge you to ask yourself: what have I lost? What may I gain? After all the pain, what did I learn? Life is about learning, growing and re-building. We only get one life, but if you live it well, then you’re on the right path.